Romancing the Stone is a quintessential eighties action/adventure movie. The factors that were required for such a film were that it either had to be set in the future, space, deal with time travel or have a treasure hunting theme. This story became the adventure film alternative to the much loved Indiana Jones series. Starring some of the finest actors of the time, Romancing the Stone is an exciting romp in to an absurd situation rounded out with a little romance. Released in 1984, the film boasts a cast consisting of Michael Douglas (Falling Down, Basic Instinct), Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue Got Married, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) Danny Devito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) in some of their most memorable roles. Romancing the Stone was The Princess Bride before the literary fantasy film from 1987 even existed.
The events that drive the film are put in to motion when Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), a romance writer, receives a treasure map in the mail and a ransom request from the men who have kidnapped her sister. She is then put in the middle of a real life romance novel rife with drama, adventure, a villain and a swarthy, disagreeable hero in Jack Colton (Michael Douglas). As the two recover the treasure and try to save Joan’s sister, they are taken on an insane adventure, while working to avoid trouble every step of the way.
Romancing the Stone is one of my personal favorite movies from the eighties or any time, but one that I always forget about until someone brings it up. It holds a special place in my heart as one of the first movies, if not the first live action movie that I enjoyed and appreciated the love story. It’s very possible that this was because the film did follow the romance novel scheme, but they use this theme it to great effect, employing comedy to move the story forward instead of steamy passion. Danny DeVito continues his “weaselly guy” role from Taxi and beyond with his character Ralph who provides much of the comic relief. Kathleen Turner became a favorite of mine after this role. She owned the character of Joan Wilder and was so strong in her portrayal. Her penchant for comedy shines in Romancing the Stone. This is still my favorite character of hers to date. Of course, then there’s Michael Douglas. What can you say about his role in the film? He is spot-on as the aggravating, abrasive, magnetic Jack.
The chemistry between Turner and Douglas is thrilling and the way the entire cast plays of one another makes me long for those days and these movies. Their friendships and rivalries were flawless and the work that went in to the film is evident. As cheesy as the eighties could be, it was a time when computer animation wasn’t seen as a necessity by studios and producers, CGI wasn’t even a concept. Quality acting, partnerships and physical comedy reigned supreme. Rumors of a remake have been brewing for years and have yet to come to fruition. Personally, I hope it stays that way. There are too many creative people out there with stellar ideas for amazing films to keep relying on “what’s worked in the past”, only to kill the memories and the performances that came before.
There are countless hilarious moments from this film, I won’t regale you with them all, but I leave you with the exceptionally dated trailer which sets the tone for the film perfectly. Happy viewing everyone and happy thirtieth anniversary to one of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen!